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02 May 2006

I regret being stuck in Missouri. I like it here OK, but I really want to live in the Pacific Northwest. I am an academic in a tight field, and my best shot at leaving would have been to publish a lot in my first couple years on the professor track, which I did not. Now it looks llike I will work out my career here.

That and the drifter I killed in Reno.

What is your greatest regret?
posted by LarryC 02 May | 22:36
I regret that I never had my own apartment in a major city. I would have liked to have gone through a Mary Tyler Moore phase. (I could totally have turned the world on with a smile.)
posted by jrossi4r 02 May | 22:40
There are so many a top 10 list probably wouldn't be enough.

Then again, there are the ones that I can be directly making pains to rectify so they won't be regrets in the future. A top 5 might cover them.

posted by porpoise 02 May | 22:41
Going immediately to graduate school from college.
posted by gaspode 02 May | 22:45
This comment totally made that thread, IMO.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 02 May | 22:47
"Looking back, I have this to regret, that too often when I loved, I did not say so." - David Grayson
posted by amro 02 May | 22:52
not being always truthful. telling lies is never okay.
posted by sam 02 May | 22:59
I wish I had gone to Duke. I was accepted and had a scholarship that paid half of tuition. But I ended up going to my diploma mill state university because I had a full ride. I still ended up with $40k in student loans (including grad school). I am happy in my life, but I think I would have had much better education with many more opportunities if I had gone to Duke.
posted by kimdog at 5:07 PM PST on May 2


sorry. but i keep the faith. rah-rah carolina-lina.
posted by sam 02 May | 23:02
I have no regrets at all. I don't believe in regret and see it as an indulgence. I try to learn from my mistakes. I often fail but I see regret as something that is only a negative.


From ThePinkSuperhero's link.

(He's a mefite. Hi! Still in denial about the fact that you gave them to me? Asshat.)
That's Asshat not Arse_hat!
posted by arse_hat 02 May | 23:09
be nice sam. don't call mefi users dickheads.

or i'll remind you that your day sucked.

your day sucked, sam.
Reading this thread, I was kind of pleased that I couldn't think of any major regrets in my life. Then I thought of one and got a little depressed.

Ugh, I just thought of another one. Ok, I'll just go with: I wish I had majored in Computer Science like I wanted to. I had two friends who were programmers who both discouraged me. Now I want to find those people and slap them.
posted by agropyron 02 May | 23:35
"I had two friends who were programmers who both discouraged me. Now I want to find those people and slap them."

No good would have come of it agropyron. Hug them.
posted by arse_hat 02 May | 23:39
I don't regret a single thing.
posted by cmonkey 02 May | 23:41
There are some people I probably could have had sex with.

posted by scarabic 02 May | 23:49
Though I haven't really, truly "applied" myself, though I haven't really, truly gone to school, and though I really, truly have no career to speak of - I have learned oh so much, have seen so many impossible and impossibly beautiful things.

I'm reminded of a parable of sorts, I believe it was from the book "Survival in Auschwitz". A prisoner was talking about the day the Gestapo came and took away his family. They came for them during their dinner. The man remembers with anguish the platefuls of uneaten homemade spaghetti they were eating, and how delicious and filling it was, and how he now had nothing but the worst and most watery cabbage and potato soup.

He goes on to swear on all that is Holy that if he had to do it all over again that he wouldn't answer the door - that he would sit and eat that plate of spaghetti, and another, and another until he was full and bursting.

I regret not doing more drugs when I was younger and more durable, and that I haven't done more weird and even more weirder things with my life and meat-body, as well.

I regret some instances of not opening myself up completely to love of all flavors, agape, amore, and every shade and texture in between.

I regret not going for some of the unique experiences and opportunities presented to me with utter gusto and life-lust, I regret partaking of some of them with reservations and not realizing them to the fullest.

But there's still a bit of time left for that yet...
posted by loquacious 02 May | 23:50
I regret I let my old man talk me out of art school.

But then I wound up with the kinda job I would of probably gone to school for anyway...

posted by black8 02 May | 23:51
That's Asshat not Arse_hat!

hehe, I was about to accuse you of giving beth scabies, you bastard.
posted by puke & cry 03 May | 00:22
weretable, you have to consider the extenuating circumstances re: the school of the devil. also, my day actually genuinely fucking ruled, annoying shit aside. everything else went great and i still feel pretty good.
posted by sam 03 May | 00:29
I've given this question some thought over the years, and I'm happy to say that my only regret is not calling in sick when I did my pregnancy test before work, so I could tell my husband when he got home. Instead, I went to work thrilled and excited, and waited all day, not telling anyone until I was able to tell him 12 hours later. We split up a few months later, even though we were trying.....I can't help wonder if that would've put us on a slightly different track.
And really, the split was a blessing in disguise, so if that's my worst regret, that's not bad!
posted by iamtherealme 03 May | 00:30
...that and the drifter I killed in Reno

..just made my night.

I regret dropping out of a great school because I was afraid of the debt and I was way too drunk most of the time. (Sometimes, I was just drunk enough.)

I regret that my last words to my father were, "See you next weekend!" instead of, "I love you, Dad."

I regret not exercising more, and I regret starting smoking cigarettes.

I regret finding my first fiancee in bed with another man before we were married. She had crazy money, and if I'd waited a while to catch her I'd be rich now.

I regret shaving my head that last time, because it didn't grow back.

My regrets are many and banal, as are my blessings.
posted by BitterOldPunk 03 May | 00:31
No regrets or apologies to anyone. I choose to be happy with my choices and be decidedly indifferent about the things out of my control. Easier to be a romantic that way.
posted by AlexReynolds 03 May | 00:33
I regret turning the world on with my smile. And the Computer Science degree. Otherwise, je ne regrette rien. Well, OK, I regret pretentiously quoting French song titles.
posted by timefactor 03 May | 00:43
I regret not becoming a veterinarian like I always wanted to.

I regret going to grad school because I took out student loans to do it. Also, I never finished it, which I also regret, since I still have to pay for it.
posted by small_ruminant 03 May | 01:17
Ugh, I just thought of another one. Ok, I'll just go with: I wish I had majored in Computer Science like I wanted to. I had two friends who were programmers who both discouraged me. Now I want to find those people and slap them.

I'm a programmer (With a CS degree) and those people were retards.
posted by delmoi 03 May | 01:31
I like to think that I'm too young for regrets. I'm sure that five or so years down the road I'll feel differently about that.
posted by kosher_jenny 03 May | 01:43
I only regret not living in the moment more. Life is teh awesome all the time, but much time is spent fretting about futures, reaching for goals and so on. Smell flowers people!
posted by dabitch 03 May | 02:05
Damn, I have to pick one?

Yeah, that's not a joke, either. It's fucking tragic, man.

* not kissing her when I had the chance
* flunking out of college
* leaving New York the way I did
-- There's a story there. My roommate's partner died of AIDS. I freaked. Sorry, Derry.
* never taking that camping trip around all the Great Lakes
* not kissing her when I had the chance
* quitting the college I was finishing college at
* not starting my software business (1991)
* not taking the job working for the Clinton campaign
-- when nobody knew who he was, could have taken me to wonkland, where I might have been happier
* watching my first big consulting project crash and burn without doing more
* not starting my internet business (1994)
-- ISP, actually, I ran the numbers, could have swung it, didn't have the guts
* not kissing her when I had the chance1
* the thing I did that snowballed into something that really hurt her1
-- There's a story there. No, I'm not telling.
* not starting my internet business (1998)
* that thing I did that should have gotten me fired but I was too essential to the project
-- There's a story there. No, I'm not telling.
* asking to quit a big consulting project
-- after months of 80+ hour weeks followed by a year of working nights and weekends decimated 90% of the social life I'd built up in Chicago; but I never got a good gig from that company again, nor did my career ever recover
* not starting my internet business (2002)
* supporting the Iraq war (almost every day)
* losing my biggest freelancing client
* not kissing her when I had the chance1
* allowing various chronic medical condition(s) to build up
-- I may not be eligible for insurance again.

1 Same person, actually, but that day may yet come.

I don't want too much sympathy, most of this I did to myself, from depression or cussed self-destructiveness. It's rather cleansing to tot all this up, actually.

By the way, working like fuck on that internet business, this time. So I can kiss her, this time.

And there are some things I will never regret, like all the time I've given to my nieces and nephew, who my brother basically abandoned (and my father has emotionally abandoned).
posted by stilicho 03 May | 02:13
"* not starting my internet business (1994)
-- ISP, actually, I ran the numbers, could have swung it, didn't have the guts"

I had the guts. Lost hundreds of thousands of $ and then got crushed when the telcos finally caught on and I ended up homeless and sleeping in a park. Don't regret that one.
posted by arse_hat 03 May | 02:29
I regret drinking from the age of 14-39. It was blackout oblivion drinking from the start. I don't know that I could ever have changed it, because the first drink was the magic potion that took away the fear. But I do regret the loss of my teens, twenties and thirties to alcoholism.
posted by essexjan 03 May | 03:25
I kind of regret not taking more photos. That's about it.
posted by teleskiving 03 May | 05:50
When I was in eighth grade and stuck in an emotionally abusive home, I reported it to a well-loved science teacher who reported it to the CPS, and they sent a social worker down. She offered me the possibility of pursuing leaving, and I chose not to because I was afraid of change and worried about who would pay for university. I stayed and am dealing with anxiety and depression to this day. I regret the hell out of that.

Furthermore they did not pay much for university and I am stuck with student loans, and I faffed about uselessly at uni anyway, which I also regret.
posted by By the Grace of God 03 May | 05:57
I'll agree with arse_hat. No regrets at all. Every mistake was a lesson learned. Skipping any one of them might have left me unprepared at a later date.

Who am I kidding? I regret spending so much time with that absolute loon. She nearly killed me. Though I guess I did finally and completely learn to stay away from complete evil nutcases.

Oh, and being born dirt poor. I regret the hell out of that.
posted by ?! 03 May | 07:42
I regret becoming a vegetarian in my twenties. I think it really fucked up my gut.
posted by Hugh Janus 03 May | 08:03
Looking back, my life is full of "man, I shoulda" and "man, I wish I woulda" moments. But, all things considered, I have an absolutely amazing daughter, a good relationship with her mother, and a job that, although I don't enjoy it some of the time, makes life very comfortable. I realize I live a charmed life, and although there are naturally things from my past that I'd change, I'm comfortable and content. Who knows where I'd be if I'd made different choices? In particular, the warning signs that my ex-wife wasn't the one for me were right in front of me (in flashing neon) in those first few weeks. I hung onto it because I'd been alone for a long time. We had some very rough spots as a couple, but in the end, I gained a daughter and a close friend, both of whom enrich my life. That's the most obvious example, but there are lots of things I can look back on and know that I should have acted differently given the information available at the moment.

Um. This rambling and quasiphilosophical answer is my way of saying "none".
posted by mike9322 03 May | 08:25
Life has a way of growing around whatever decisions you make. Unless you've been a real asshole (i.e., murdered someone, abused a child, etc.), or unless you are the sort of person who never learns a thing from any experience and keeps making the same stupid choices time and time again, most of your mistakes won't matter much in the long run. Give life you best effort, work with whatever resources and opportunities you have, and the rewards you reap will at least be enough to keep you going.
posted by Orange Swan 03 May | 08:52
I was gonna say not finishing college, but you know what? Being 21 (the year where other people are reaching intellectual heights, having wild sexual adventures, or other interesting growth experiences) and having your life consist of working nights in a bakery with the handicapped and recent immigrants and the extent of your social life be going out one day a week for lunch and buying baseball cards, a CD or a book, and sleeping in your parents attic with a Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon beach towel nailed over the skylight over your bed can really help you develop a new perspective. You kind of become a cultural island of one. Or perhaps you realize before most people that you already are. Don't even get me started on what it does to your sex life at a time when most people are riding the hormonal concorde, and you're living like a geeky monk. But all that made me jonmc. So, no fucking regrets.
posted by jonmc 03 May | 09:02
I pretty much regret everything, so my list is just too long to type - it starts at about age 12, actually. More or less every decision I've made in my life has been wrong, I think. Occasionally I've been able to fix mistakes I made - leaving the drunk abusive asshole, managing to raise two kids I shouldn't have had in the first place - but I wish I'd made the right decisions to begin with and not ended up just barely keeping myself above water. I had opportunities, lots of them, to make my life better and fear or inertia or something else made me not take them and instead just drift and now that I'm too old to change anything, I regret it all bitterly.
posted by mygothlaundry 03 May | 09:14
I'm in the "no regrets, all my mistakes are part of what made me who I am" school of thought here. I guess my only regret is that I didn't study voice or an instrument when I was a child (my parents were liberal and let me stop taking piano lessons when I said I didn't want to).
posted by matildaben 03 May | 09:16
≡ Click to see image ≡

I wish I could regret nothing. i want to think of all my choices as building a more interesting life than it would have been if i'd done it right, but the truth is I can't sleep at night thinking of what a mess I've made of things.
posted by mdn 03 May | 10:00
I try not to regret things in my past, but one thing that I have trouble letting go of is not continuing violin lessons. My parents didn't want to pay the money. But I really loved playing music. If only I had a better instrument, if only I could afford a better teacher...

Grace, I identify with what you said. A lot of my teenage and adult life I didn't break with my parents because I needed their money. Now I'm completely estranged from them and not having monetary support from your family really is huge. I respect your decision a lot. As a child you were given an adult decision and you made it.
posted by halonine 03 May | 11:58
I regret not pursuing med school, but not too much. I regret not being gutsier, and that's ongoing.
posted by omiewise 03 May | 13:03
There are things I wish I had and hadn't done, but I've done the best I can within my limitations.
posted by deborah 03 May | 13:14
mdn, that mousetrap graphic is unrestrained awesomeness. Did you make that?
posted by loquacious 03 May | 13:58
I regret all the times I let fear stop me from doing what I wanted.
posted by Lola_G 03 May | 14:01
Oh, and I regret not being able to see my grandmother before she died, and tell her I loved her, but she knew it, only her Alzheimers had removed everything but fear of the unknown, and the unknown gradually became everything as she lost memories of family, of love, and eventually of self, and I wasn't allowed to see her for fear of upsetting her more, so she died far more alone than anyone with such grace ever deserved.

Maybe this is less of a regret and more of a rail against fate? Anyway, there it is.
posted by Hugh Janus 03 May | 14:38
I wish I'd taken my three-year-old niece in from foster care. I might have a sixteen-year-old daughter now. I was twenty-three and newly married and thought she was better off. Plus, my brother and his wife were scheduled to get her back. Still, I had this feeling. That summer, she drowned in her foster parents' pool.
posted by Pips 03 May | 15:06
Hugh, we seem to be shadowing each other around the site today. (Didn't see ya till after I posted...).

Leggo my straw... : )
posted by Pips 03 May | 15:12
it is the unrestrained awesomeness of a fellow mefite. it was on projects some time ago...
posted by mdn 03 May | 18:46
hmm, omiwise - I'm there, too.

On one hand, I guess I wouldn't be (projected to be) very good at it if I managed to make it through the program.

On the other hand, I know quite a few people with my temperment who became less-good-people after having gone through it and are less good medical doctors than I would have been.

On the gripping hand, I'm a piss impecunious graduate student and will be a piss-impecunious scientist

Then again, I'll have an excuse to look down on medical doctors in order to not be (as) jealous of their property ownership, (potential) trophy spouses, and social status.
posted by porpoise 04 May | 00:09